Montreal: Michael Shank Racing race report

Michael Shank Racing keeps championship momentum going in Montreal (Montreal, Que) August 3 2007--Michael Shank Racing continued to make progress in the Rolex Sports Car Series championship standings with another strong run with both team ...

Michael Shank Racing keeps championship momentum going in Montreal

(Montreal, Que) August 3 2007--Michael Shank Racing continued to make progress in the Rolex Sports Car Series championship standings with another strong run with both team Lexus-Riley entries on Friday at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

The No. 60 of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri finished sixth to move up to sixth in the Rolex team championship standings.

The Montreal round saw an impressive streak of top ten finishes for the Playboy Lexus-Riley of John Pew and Ian James come to and end, but only just, as the two finished in eleventh. But the result still moved the No. 6 up to seventh in the championship standings, tied with the Laguna Seca-round winning No. 23 entry.

As was widely anticipated, the Rolex Series Montreal debut took place in front of a large and passionate Friday afternoon crowd.

"It was great to be racing in front of these fans, and we put on a good show for them no question," said team owner Mike Shank. "Ian got unlucky on that one restart--otherwise we'd have been in the top ten with both cars again no question. But it was still a good weekend for us with both cars, and now we are looking forward to the Glen next week."

Patterson followed up his morning qualifying performance with an outstanding race start, leaping to fifth in the early running order. He held onto the top-five spot, defending against Christian Fittipaldi, who first raced at the Circuit Gilles Villenueve in Formula 1 in 1992.

"That was really something, to look forward and see that there were just four cars ahead!" said Patterson. "The guys ahead were already getting into each other in the first corner, and I knew that the other lane had more grip, so I was able to just clear them on the inside no problem. I had to fight to hold onto the position, but eventually they found a weakness and pounced on it. But the car was great and I had a ball running like we did today."

Negri took over from Patterson on the race's first full course caution, but was soon after sent off-course by the No. 3 entry. The driver came over and tried to apologize after the event, but the damage was already done as Negri found himself down in sixteenth in the running order.

But fast driving, good pit stops and good strategy saw Negri cross the line a fighting sixth.

"Dave (Kanning) called a great race for us today," said Negri. "I could tell that the guys behind me were getting desperate at the end, so I had to just make sure I kept enough distance from them to keep them from doing anything aggressive. The car kept getting better even though we didn't have new tires at the end, so I could make up some of that ground we lost when we got spun. Mark had a great day today-his qualifying was outstanding and watching him run where he was at the start was great, I was really proud of his effort today."

The sister Playboy machine of James and Pew were looking to keep a run of top-ten finishes going through the Montreal round, but the sixty-eight lap event just didn't play out the way the team was hoping for.

"I had a good battle going with Rob (Finely) and Jim (Matthews), but it was pretty hard to pass around here," said Pew. "It's too bad to not keep the top-tens going, but I'm looking forward to the Glen. I've never driven the short course there but I know this team has been fast so hopefully we can keep moving up in the championship there."

"We had a pretty big understeer and just struggled with the traction so it was challenging," said James. "That one restart really hurt us, but I had no choice but to back out of it, and I was trapped on one line but everyone went inside and there was nothing I could do. So it was disappointing, but at least I got a couple spots at the end of the race trying to salvage a top ten."

Michael Shank Racing has been on the podium three times in Rolex competition, and will look to grow that number next week as the Rolex series joins up with the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series at Watkins Glen.

-credit: msr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Christian Fittipaldi , Ian James , Gilles Villeneuve , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , John Pew , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing